Much can be said about Brotha Lynch Hung's latest album. Despite the fact Strange Music is technically an independent record label, "Dinner and a Movie" is easily Hung's highest profile album since his album debut "Season of da Siccness" over fifteen years ago. It is impressive BLH is still rapping, even more impressive he's releasing one of the most anticipated albums so far this year. That said, BLH's longevity isn't the most important element of his latest album or his career. Instead, BLH serves as an example of both the fickleness and loyalty of rap fans. That contrast is captured best by the industry mirrored in his latest album. "Dinner and a Movie" is presented as an audio movie. It is a collection of songs and skits put together to tell a story. It is meant to entertain and deliver a message at the same time. The problem is that it's a horror movie, and therefore despite all its successes, it will be judged first by its label, and then by its content. Movie fans in general tend to be fickle like that. Some might even call it snobbish, after all a good movie should be entertaining regardless of the content. Despite clearly being a niche market, horror movies continue to be made, more than any other movie genre. The reason for their success is that horror movies have a smaller, but much more loyal, fan base that consistently supports the industry. Brotha Lynch Hung's albums have always been the horror movies of the rap industry. "Season of da Siccness" sold well, a result of BLH's ability to seamlessly mix smooth g-funk with hardcore rap lyrics, but it was exception to the rule. Those fans that made an exception to peep "Season of da Siccness" have passed on the rest of BLH's catalog. While BLH has had some weak albums over the years, the man's dropped plenty of dope material just as good as the songs found on "Season of da Siccness." His loyal fans have remained steadfast throughout the years, but it seems the general hip-hop population needs something extraordinary from the man to justify their departure from their comfort zones. "Dinner and a Movie" is such an album.
The difference between "Dinner and a Movie" and his other albums lies in the focus shown by Brotha Lynch Hung. To pull off an ambitious project like this takes much more focus than merely producing and collecting a series of unconnected songs. Hung balances the necessity to make dope music with the theme of the "movie" quite well. The basic premise is Hung's somewhat autobiographical story of a serial killing rapper from Sacramento. The album progresses from an interrogation room where the "coat hanger strangler" promises to confess his crimes. It follows a conflicted man through tales of struggle and murder, before a somewhat unexpected ending. The lead single, "Meat," captures the spirit of the album best as Brotha Lynch Hung weaves a tale that is equal parts sentimental and equal parts twisted:
"I only got enough money for some hamburger meat
But I still ain't tripping that's the shit I like to eat
But my son he like "Daddy, this is all we got to eat?"
I'm like "Son, I'm about to sign big time"
I'm downloading beats and I'm bout start writing to them
And if the fans don't buy them I'ma kill them in they sleep
Bring the extra cheese
We gonna eat somehow like Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese
Getting dirty knees, make me some fucking stacks of G's
With the A-R automatic Uzi machine
All you gotta do is wash it off and then put it in the freeze
And then we good for another couple of weeks
When you get older like me you'll be tucking the heat
And if not you, you'll be stuck in the street
I want to say your mom love you, but that's up to she
But we gonna do what we gotta do and that's get the meat
Strange music got my back, hopefully
But if not there really ain't no hope for me
That means you going through the same situation
That means we gone keep going through the same shit you hating"
While the song does recount a man resorting to cannibalism to feed himself and his child, ultimately it is about a man's struggle to provide for his family. Brotha Lynch Hung is skillfully adept at meshing the macabre with real life emotions. "I Tried To Commit Suicide" is a raw and honest reflection of BLH's career, the rollercoaster ride the industry has taken him on, and the affect it has had on his personal life. The emotional songs balance the raw violence found on other songs. "Colostomy Bag" finds BLH teaming up with his Sacramento label mates, G-Macc and C-Lim, to declare their evil intent:
"Coat hanger, throat strangler
Your folks get mangled up
Cut em up from the navel
Put you in the hospital fast
Have you wearing an oxygen mask
With the doctors in surgery, getting a colostomy bag"
As the story told centers around a serial killing rapper, gore is expected, but BLH's brand of horror is not pointless. "Split Personality" details the inner struggle between good and evil found within our fictional serial killer. "I Plotted (My Next Murder)" finds BLH explaining the motivation behind his dark side:
"I was sitting in a room with my pistol, skitzo
Fist full of bullets and my grip's slow, I'm mad
They say my music ain't strange enough
So I signed on the dotted line with Strange and stuff
Now I'm back! I'm back, like LL
And ladies love me, but fuck 'em, I make they bodies smell
I got a psycho bitch, she'll cut you well
Leave you in the trash can, you better get my mail
I'm so serious, believe it, I'm furious
And fucking them bitches while they on they periods, I'm C-Sicc
See here's my brand new meat dish
Intestines and bell peppers, onions, and salt, my delicatessen
Cheap trick, I want you to want me
Then I turn around and put your head in my Humvee"
The songs are all connected through a series of skits that brings the movie concept together. The skits focus on the Coat Hanger Strangler's crimes and the local police department's desperation in putting a stop to the murders, allowing the storyline to flow throughout the album.
"Dinner and a Movie" should not be missed by any hip-hop fan. It's not just a good BLH album or a good hardcore/horrorcore album, it's a great album – period. If, as a rap fan, you really are averse to that style of music or its content, then you're missing the point of the genre. Hip-hop has always been about expression and how one expresses themselves. Brotha Lynch Hung has mastered the art. Not only has the man crafted a dope flow and delivery, he's managed to present somewhat cliché subject matter in an entirely unique way. He's not the first or the last rapper to intersperse horror into gangsta rap, but he certainly is one of the few who does it well.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: March 30, 2010